Flipped model - hanging deck chairs on the Titanic?

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Roxanne Missingham

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Mar 31, 2016, 5:52:01 PM3/31/16
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Dear Colleagues

 

Glenn has suggested this might be topical for our discussions so I am forwarding this on and looking forward to your thoughts!

 

Thanks Glenn.

 

Regards

Roxanne

 

From: scholcom...@lists.ala.org [mailto:scholcom...@lists.ala.org] On Behalf Of Roxanne Missingham
Sent: Thursday, March 31, 2016 12:28 AM
To: scho...@lists.ala.org
Subject: [SCHOLCOMM] flipped model

 

Thanks for all the good discussion  and I have been pondering the flipped model with some concern. 

 

I think a big question is what we want to achieve.  For some of us the goals are ensuring that:

·         Publications are of quality rather than quantity

·         Research funded by public and enlightened private funders is made available to all

·         Our university funds are used to support quality publications/publishing

·         The scholarly communication cycle (recognising Danny’s comment that this is not a recognised field of study) achieves the production of scholarly output by researchers including early career researchers and higher degree by research students and the development of new innovative journals.

 

There are arguments that investing in gold OA fees, or in the flipped model paying to publishers based on quantitative output has the potential to:

·         Incentivise the production of quantity rather than quality (the more that you publish the more that publishers get paid)

·         Create an environment where resources will not be sufficient of fund new and innovative journals as funds are tied up

·         Restrict us all to established publishers and journals

·         Squeeze out monographs (even more than the current trend)

·         Create a set of interdependencies where as an “all in” approach is required there are pressures which will prevent any institution opting out

·         Puts the charges and any changes fully into the hands of the publishers – beyond the consortia arrangements we have now to be get best price.

 

I recognise that there are arguments that the big producers of researches must pay more, but in an environment where income to uneirvsity is not related to the quantity of publications is penalises those universities for doing research.  

 

So you might ask what should we do to actually reach the tipping point in open access?  I argue that we need to keep changing the whole system rather than tinkering with the method of payment – don’t seek to change the deck chairs on the titanic but fundamentally think through what is needed to achieve accessible knowledge transfer and access to research.

 

There are developments that should be supported in terms of new and different models:

·         Open Library of Humanities' Library Partnership Subsidy system is a great initiative - https://about.openlibhums.org/2016/03/29/all-eleven-sites-of-the-university-of-california-library-system-join-olh-lps-model/ demonstrates new exciting developments

·         Knowledge unlatched as very innovative and takes new “buying club” approach to open access that has delivered two round of great content

·         Smaller flexible open access publishing (see https://caullibrarypublishing.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/university-presses-decline-to-decline-new-models-down-under/ for information about activities down under).

 

I suggest that we need to think about the interests of all stakeholders and potential real effects and perverse economic incentives for publishing and scholarly communication.

 

It is useful also to bear in mind Marcus Munafo, University of Bristol  presentation at RLUK this year which is helpfully on Youtube and his finding that  the highest correlation is between journal impact factors and retraction rates.

 

Regards


Roxanne

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From: scholcom...@lists.ala.org [mailto:scholcom...@lists.ala.org] On Behalf Of Ivy Anderson
Sent: Thursday, 31 March 2016 3:25 PM
To: Terri Fishel <fis...@macalester.edu>; Stover, Mark E <mark....@csun.edu>
Cc: scho...@lists.ala.org
Subject: RE: [SCHOLCOMM] Library Expenditures, Salaries Outstrip Inflation

 

I’m curious how one might view the relationship of the MIT initiative – with which I have great sympathy – to the OA2020 initiative being advanced by the Max Planck Digital Library to convert the journal literature to OA (http://oa2020.org/).  If we should be redirecting our collection dollars to support more openness, does this include conversion of the existing literature in which the majority of our scholars still publish? 

 

If not,  Why not?  What alternative approaches do folks advocate with respect to this literature, and how might these approaches produce the largescale transformation we seek?  Or put somewhat differently, what is the transformation we actually seek with respect to this literature, and what is a viable path to get there?

 

To be clear, my question isn’t directed at whether, or to what degree, we should be supporting alternative publishing initiatives like OLH, library- or institutionally-based publishing, and many others that might be mentioned – clearly these investments are an important strategic element in any reframing of how we choose to spend our collection dollars.  My question is really about the other 99% - how do we effect largescale change in the existing corpus (if that is a goal)?

 

As part of the framing of this question, I would like to put forward two propositions with which folks may or may not agree, but which I think should be part of the discussion:

1)      that if we were to redirect our collection expenditures in this way (i.e. turning existing subscription expenditures into OA expenditures in the existing literature), we would not be funding publishers, but rather the publication choices of our authors.  This, I would argue, is a profound difference:  as the publishing choices of our authors shift, our collection expenditures would shift with them;  they would truly be ‘scholar-led.’ 

2)      that such a shift – and this is a hypothetical that would need to be subjected to rigorous analysis and testing – would include mechanisms for controlling costs and/or influencing them in a downward direction that are at least equal to, and ideally better than, the mechanisms we now have for controlling costs in the subscription world. 

 

I’m posing these questions in all sincerity, not for a rhetorical purpose.  I would very much like to see these questions and propositions debated (in the best sense of debate, i.e. as an intellectual contest designed to inform thought and, especially, action). 

 

Ivy

 

Ivy Anderson

Interim Executive Director

& Director of Collections

California Digital Library

University of California, Office of the President

Office: (510) 987-0425  |  Cell: (510) 239-9502

http://cdlib.org  |  ivy.an...@ucop.edu

 

From: scholcom...@lists.ala.org [mailto:scholcom...@lists.ala.org] On Behalf Of Terri Fishel
Sent: Wednesday, March 30, 2016 11:42 AM
To: Stover, Mark E
Cc: scho...@lists.ala.org
Subject: Re: [SCHOLCOMM] Library Expenditures, Salaries Outstrip Inflation

 

Mark,

At the risk of duplicating something that was already shared, I recommend taking a look at the recent posting on In the Open Blog -
http://intheopen.net/2016/03/what-organic-food-shopping-can-tell-us-about-transforming-the-scholarly-communications-system/

I agree with your statement, "...this doesn't change my belief that some form of open access (or perhaps several forms of open access) are ultimately the best end result for scholarly communication." 

And I think the action that MIT is taking is one that more of us could take in evaluating how we spend our limited dollars.  From the blog:

"In making a more holistic and values-based assessment, we will be using a new lens: assessing potential purchases in relation to whether they transform the scholarly communication system towards openness, or make a positive impact on the scholarly communication environment in some way, whether via licensing, access, pricing, or another dimension." [emphasis mine]

In addition to having a fund to pay author fees for OA articles, and supporting open access publishing initiatives such as  Knowledge Unlatched or Open Book Publishers,  I think in following the lead of MIT, if more institutions could take a holistic approach, in the process we would provide a result that is in the best interests of our faculty and students.  We will all have the best end result which is more access at a reduced cost to the research, scholarship, and creative works that are produced by our own community members and increased access will lead  to further developments and new knowledge that all can benefit from and build upon.

I applaud the actions taken by MIT and we are having conversations here to determine how we could follow their lead.  I hope it is the start of a movement that catches on in more academic libraries.

Sincerely,

Terri


_____________________________

 

 

Teresa A. Fishel
Library Director
DeWitt Wallace Library
Macalester College
1600 Grand Avenue
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Mike Taylor

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Apr 1, 2016, 5:03:24 AM4/1/16
to Roxanne Missingham, osi20...@googlegroups.com
I think there are three main issues here -- two of them observations,
and one of them a question.

First, on incentives. You express concern that a flip to Gold OA would
"incentivise the production of quantity rather than quality (the more
that you publish the more that publishers get paid)". It's certainly
true that in a Gold OA world, the publishers would like to see more
papers (and monographs) published. But whether we the academic
community respond to that desire by publishing more is not a decision
that the publishers get to make. This -- like so many issues -- comes
back to the problem what incentives apply in academia. While scholars
gains rewards like promotion and tenure by publishing many papers (for
example because committees evaluate people based on their H-index), it
is inevitable that those scholars will seek to publish many papers --
and this would true whether in a subscription-based or Gold OA-based
system. Thus I think the problem of publishing quantity rather than
quality is quite independent from the problem of how we pay for
publications.

Second, on costs. Your second concern is that a flip to Gold OA would
"create an environment where resources will not be sufficient of fund
new and innovative journals as funds are tied up." I'm sure these
numbers are not new to you, but it seems pretty clear that a flipped
world would have much *lower* total costs than the present system.
Here are the numbers:

The STM Report for 2015
(http://www.stm-assoc.org/2015_02_20_STM_Report_2015.pdf), page 6,
reports total income in the STM field as $10 billion for 2013. About
2.5 million papers were published. That gives an average income per
paper of $4000. (We can probably assume a broadly similar figure for
non-STM papers, too.) By contrast, the Wellcome Trust's recent report
on its APC spending in 2013-14
(http://blog.wellcome.ac.uk/2015/03/03/the-reckoning-an-analysis-of-wellcome-trust-open-access-spend-2013-14/)
shows an average APC of £1837, currently about $2634. This is slightly
less than 2/3 what the world at large is paying per paper.

In other words, even using the relatively high APCs paid by the
Wellcome trust, the world's 2.5 million papers per year could be
published for $6.6 billion -- saving $3.4 billion to spent elsewhere.

The third thing is a question, and I think this is crucial for the
prospects of a Gold-OA ecosystem: will we get a true market in APCs?
If we do, then prices will be forced down until they are very close to
costs -- which publishers like Hindawi, Ubiquity Press and PeerJ have
shown can be in the $400-500 range, almost literally an order of
magnitude less than the world presently pays for publication. But if
no true market emerges, prices will now fall -- indeed publishers may
have the leverage to raise APCs at rates greater than inflation, as
they have been doing for subscriptions. That is why I believe that,
however tempting "APC Big Deals" are to individual libraries or
consortia, they should be strenuously resisted. As with subscription
Big Deals, the short-term savings (while real) would be absolutely
swarfed by the long-term losses.

If I'm right about this, then we face a tragedy of the commons during
this phase of transition from subscriptions to Gold OA: it will be in
the short-term interests of each library to accept a Big Deal on APCs;
but again the interests of the community. We will need to communicate
well, and function as a global community, to avoid falling into this
trap.

-- Mike.


P.S. Good to meet you all!






On 31 March 2016 at 22:51, Roxanne Missingham
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Schultz, Jack C.

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Apr 1, 2016, 10:46:41 AM4/1/16
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I notice one thing in common in both MIT and Max Planck plans.  You can see it here: 

Max Planck:  "Introduce OA funds (where not already established)”
MIT: "The MIT Libraries are relatively well-resourced, and are privileged in having a bit of wiggle room to take this values-based approach”

These plans are for organizations with deep pockets. Few public institutions in the US are in a position to do this up front. Our library is asking us what to cut, and the institution’s budget situation is dire. There are no “OA funds” to introduce.  I suspect that the suggestion that libraries “redirect our collection expenditures … (i.e. turning existing subscription expenditures into OA expenditures in the current literature)” could only be accomplished by ending current subscriptions. That would create enormous panic and animosity among STEM researchers. I’m no expert on libraries or their finances, but I don’t see this working without an infusion of additional funds.  Like many, I couldn’t tolerate even a week without ‘free’ access to the journals on which I depend. 

The Pollan/organic food analogy is apt:  there’s a (financial) reason why low-income folks eat at McDonalds. They need to eat now, it’s affordable, and the long-term costs are invisible or ignored.  As in many human endeavors, the long-term view loses out to short-term gains or sustainability. 

Jack

Christopher S. Bond Life Science Center
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65202
@jackcschultz


It is useful also to bear in mindMarcus Munafo, University of Bristol  presentation at RLUK this year which is helpfully on Youtube and his finding that  the highest correlation is between journal impact factors and retraction rates.

--

T Scott Plutchak

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Apr 1, 2016, 11:10:19 AM4/1/16
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I think Jack’s observations are correct for most libraries.  During my many years as director of UAB’s Lister Hill Library my constant struggle was to preserve as much access to critically needed subscription-based content as possible.  While philosophically predisposed to the notion that library funds should be used to support OA efforts, as a practical matter I never had sufficient budget flexibility to make that happen. 

 

Scott

Ivy Anderson

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Apr 1, 2016, 11:29:30 AM4/1/16
to T Scott Plutchak, osi20...@googlegroups.com
But if those funds were redirected toward *the same journals* that you cannot live without, wouldn't that be a better outcome?

Ivy
Sent from my mobile

Neil Jacobs

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Apr 1, 2016, 11:43:47 AM4/1/16
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But would that not need to be done by everyone, at the same time?

And, I think many of the items in Roxanne’s list of concerns would still stand?

Not saying it’s impossible, just very difficult perhaps.

In the meantime, as many will know, we’re pursuing “local offsetting” schemes and national flipped models for particular publishers, but they are not without challenges of their own.  And that’s in the UK context where there are, currently, additional funds for APCs.

Neil


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Schultz, Jack C.

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Apr 1, 2016, 11:46:33 AM4/1/16
to Ivy Anderson, T Scott Plutchak, osi20...@googlegroups.com
Not if those same journals aren’t OA. 


Jack C. Schultz, Director
Christopher S. Bond Life Science Center
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65202
@jackcschultz

From: <osi20...@googlegroups.com> on behalf of Ivy Anderson <Ivy.An...@ucop.edu>
Date: Friday, April 1, 2016 at 10:29 AM
To: T Scott Plutchak <tsc...@uab.edu>

Ivy Anderson

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Apr 1, 2016, 11:58:36 AM4/1/16
to Schultz, Jack C., T Scott Plutchak, osi20...@googlegroups.com

But Jack, that is the point of this debate – whether we might redirect our licensing expenditures to support OA in the primary (for lack of a better term) journal literature.  If we could accomplish that cost-effectively, would that be a good thing?  If not, why not?

 

Best,

Ivy

 

Ivy Anderson

Interim Executive Director

& Director of Collections

California Digital Library

University of California, Office of the President

Office: (510) 987-0425  |  Cell: (510) 239-9502

http://cdlib.org  |  ivy.an...@ucop.edu

 

Emmett, Laura Ada

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Apr 1, 2016, 12:00:10 PM4/1/16
to Schultz, Jack C., Ivy Anderson, T Scott Plutchak, osi20...@googlegroups.com, Kathleen Shearer

Colleagues, even if it we discover that it would work financially (and administratively) in North America and/or Europe our scholarly communication system is global, with global participants (authors and readers).

 

Kathleen Shearer said it much more succinctly than I can—and she did so on this list on March 21st (Subject line: APC backgrounder plus impacts on the Global South). Emphasis is mine.

 

Very briefly, APC’s further disadvantage researchers in the developing countries who already have barriers to publish science of relevance for their region in the international journals. Although many publishers offer waivers, these waivers are applied in inconsistent ways. 

 

And more profoundly, should we really be creating a system in which developing researchers need to ask for charity to participate? If we started from scratch today, I’m pretty certain APCs would not be part of the model.

 

In my travels outside of Europe and North America I have almost never heard of reference to the APC model - but rather the development of local, sustainable journals and OA repositories.

 

If we really want to develop a system that works globally, then we need to bring these voices into the discussion.

 

Best regards, Kathleen

 

And who is at the table shaping these discussions, these ‘futures’? (Great discussion, by the way—and thanks to Ivy for reviving this ongoing question which seems to grow in momentum in the aftermath of the Berlin 12 meeting and their outcomes documents.)

 

Warm regards,

 

Ada

 

Ada Emmett, Associate Librarian
Director of the David Shulenburger Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright
University of Kansas Libraries
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“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
Robert F. Kennedy

Schultz, Jack C.

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Apr 1, 2016, 12:06:26 PM4/1/16
to Ivy Anderson, T Scott Plutchak, osi20...@googlegroups.com
I’m not debating the merits, only the possibility. 
I guess I don’t see how this would work. 


Jack C. Schultz, Director
Christopher S. Bond Life Science Center
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65202
@jackcschultz

Mike Taylor

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Apr 1, 2016, 12:15:37 PM4/1/16
to Schultz, Jack C., Ivy Anderson, T Scott Plutchak, osi20...@googlegroups.com
I recently discussed one possible transition scenario in this blog-post:
http://svpow.com/2016/03/10/thought-experiment-1-what-will-happen-if-sci-hub-succeeds/

I quote from scenario #2 in that post:

---------------- begin quote ----------------
This is less easy to imagine, but I suppose not completely beyond the
bounds of possibility. One can just about imagine a domino effect,
perhaps something like the following.

* One university, under a tight financial squeeze, cancels all
subscriptions claiming that it’s going to get by using only Gold and
Green OA.
* In reality of course its researchers also use Sci-Hub for access to
non-OA papers.
Nothing catastrophic happens to the university (after all it would
hard for a publishers to sue a university for declining to be a
customer).
* A few more smaller universities tentatively follow the lead of the first.
* The effect snowballs.
* Finally, the Oxfords and Yales, who are the last remaining
subscribers, think “Well, this is silly”, and under the changed
environment go ahead and cancel their subscriptions, too.

Note again that I don’t think this is at all likely. But let’s just
take it as our scenario for now, and think about what would follow.

Subscription revenue would collapse, ultimately to zero. The first
thing to notice is that open-access publishers would be completely
unaffected. Publishers whose main revenue is subscriptions would
possibly try to find some way to prevent the cancellation trend, but
are unlikely to be able to force customers to renew contracts they no
longer want. Those publishers will need to transform their businesses
to being Gold OA-based as quickly as possible if they’re to survive.
But they wouldn’t need to panic too much: they would have several
years to do this, as ongoing subscription contracts would still run to
completion.

So after three to five years, when most or all of the old subscription
contracts had expired, we would be left with an all-open-access
scholarly publishing infrastructure. The landscape would include
existing OA publishers (PLOS, BMC, etc.) and also probably some but
not all of the current paywalled publishers in flipped form. It’s hard
to tell at the moment which publishers are likely to survive this
transition.

Is this a good outcome?

For big publishers that are used to 35% profit-margins, no. For most
other people, yes. (I, for example, would be very happy with this
outcome; though not all OA advocates would agree. It would be a good
transition for scholarly publishing; but perhaps not the best
possible.)

In this situation, Sci-Hub would have acted as a catalyst to greatly
speed up the subscription-to-OA transition that many of us would like
to see happen.

What would happen to institutional repositories in this world? As
sources of open-access manuscripts they would become less important —
but they would remain the only legitimate source of the manuscripts of
pre-2016 paywalled papers. Institutions use their repositories for
other purposes, too, so I imagine they would survive, and maybe even
thrive. But other are better positioned to comment.
---------------- end quote ----------------

Does that seem like a reasonable analysis? I suppose the insight here,
if there is one, is that we're used to thinking of big, prestigious
universities as being the pioneers; but in this transition, it could
be the other way around.

-- Mike.
> https://groups.google.com/d/msgid/osi2016-25/913E8FB9-1C2E-49B9-A426-2A1FEACAF47A%40missouri.edu.

Macklin, Lisa

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Apr 1, 2016, 12:22:24 PM4/1/16
to Emmett, Laura Ada, Schultz, Jack C., Ivy Anderson, T Scott Plutchak, osi20...@googlegroups.com, Kathleen Shearer
I agree with Kathleen’s assessment cited by Ada.  I would like to add an additional consideration that exists in the US, and that is small liberal arts colleges.  At Emory, we have our historical campus in Oxford, Georgia which is now a two year liberal arts college, with a focus on teaching.  The Oxford campus is included in all of the licenses for electronic resources which are campus-wide at Emory, so they have access to the resources of a research intensive university (graduate programs in medicine, law, business, theology, liberal arts, nursing, public health, etc.).  When we were having our open access conversations, we attended a faculty meeting at Oxford.  One thing that really appealed to the Oxford faculty about OA is that they viewed OA as a potential equalizer, if you will.  They are very aware of the disparity between what their colleagues at small liberal arts institutions can access and what they can access because they are a part of Emory.

I raise this perspective not as a solution, but to point out that flipping to APC’s may reinforce and increase the inequities in our current system, but at the point of being published rather than at the point of being able to read.  For me personally, this is a big concern.  How do we work to ensure that the best scholarship gets published, and not just the scholarship by those who can afford APCs?  I’m not certain I’ve heard a proposal on how a flipped model would prevent this inequity, and I don’t think waivers is a solution, or at least not a complete solution.

My current thoughts on this question.  I’m very interested in other perspectives, because this is a question with many implications and potentially damaging unintended consequences.  Thanks, Ivy, for raising the question. 

Cheers,

Lisa

Lisa A. Macklin, JD, MLS
Director, Scholarly Communications Office
Library and Information Technology Services
Emory University
Atlanta, GA 30322



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Collins, Nina K

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Apr 1, 2016, 12:43:30 PM4/1/16
to Mike Taylor, Schultz, Jack C., Ivy Anderson, T Scott Plutchak, osi20...@googlegroups.com
This SciGen apocalypse story (I name with endearment) fails to address the imminent fall of professional organizations that may currently rely on subscription fees and the role they play in scholarly communication.

Nina Collins

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From: osi20...@googlegroups.com [mailto:osi20...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Mike Taylor
Sent: Friday, April 01, 2016 12:15 PM
To: Schultz, Jack C. <schu...@missouri.edu>
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Mike Taylor

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Apr 1, 2016, 1:00:33 PM4/1/16
to Collins, Nina K, Schultz, Jack C., Ivy Anderson, T Scott Plutchak, osi20...@googlegroups.com
It is true that I didn't discuss that. I'm not sure that scientific
societies that publish are much different from other publishers in
this respect, though: they face the same requirement, namely changing
to APC-driven Gold OA if they want to retain a revenue stream.

(In any case, I grow rather weary of the idea that we owe scientific
societies a living. If they are worth having, they will surely prove
that by doing things of value. Those that don't ... well, perhaps we
don't need to mourn them too deeply? The bottom line for me is that no
scientific society that effectively promote its science by locking
that very science behind a paywall.)

-- Mike.
> To view this discussion on the web visit https://groups.google.com/d/msgid/osi2016-25/SN1PR0501MB167759DF218098D37C586BE2A39A0%40SN1PR0501MB1677.namprd05.prod.outlook.com.

Potter, Peter

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Apr 1, 2016, 4:07:33 PM4/1/16
to osi20...@googlegroups.com
It is worth noting that there is a parallel move under way to “flip” the monograph publishing part of the scholarly communication system to OA. Just a few weeks ago, a letter went out from the AAU to a group of some 20 provosts from American universities asking them to participate in a pilot project that will test the waters of funding digital OA monograph publishing via university subventions. The proposal was initially developed by the Scholarly Communication Task Force of the AAU and ARL in consultation with the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the Association of American University Presses (AAUP). And while it may seem that such an initiative is primarily of importance to scholars in the humanities and social sciences, I think that most of us would acknowledge that so-called long-form scholarship has a role to play in the ecology of scholarly research—maybe even an essential role, unless we want to further disentangle the methods of humanistic inquiry from the work of the social and natural sciences. Also, as Roxanne has rightly noted, one of the very real concerns of the crisis in STEM journal publishing is the "squeezing out” of monograph purchases by libraries. It strikes me that by looking for an OA solution to monograph publishing, we have a better chance of coming up with holistic solutions to the problems plaguing scholarly communication as a whole. 

I’d also like to suggest (with some trepidation) that if we can find a way to flip monograph publishing to OA, we really ought to be able to find a solution that works for the journals of scientific societies. After all, it’s hard to imagine a more tradition-bound profession than scholarly book publishing!

Peter

Peter J Potter
Director, Publishing Strategy
Virginia Tech
Newman Library, RM 424 
560 Drillfield Drive
Blacksburg, VA  24061 


On Apr 1, 2016, at 1:00 PM, Mike Taylor <mi...@indexdata.com> wrote:

It is true that I didn't discuss that. I'm not sure that scientific societies that publish are much different from other publishers in this respect, though: they face the same requirement, namely changing to APC-driven Gold OA if they want to retain a revenue stream.

(In any case, I grow rather weary of the idea that we owe scientific societies a living. If they are worth having, they will surely prove that by doing things of value. Those that don't ... well, perhaps we don't need to mourn them too deeply? The bottom line for me is that no scientific society that effectively promote its science by locking that very science behind a paywall.)

-- Mike.

On 1 April 2016 at 17:43, Collins, Nina K <NKCo...@indianatech.edu> wrote:
This SciGen apocalypse story (I name with endearment) fails to address the imminent fall of professional organizations that may currently rely on subscription fees and the role they play in scholarly communication.

Nina Collins

-----Original Message-----
From: osi20...@googlegroups.com [mailto:osi20...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Mike Taylor
Sent: Friday, April 01, 2016 12:15 PM
To: Schultz, Jack C. <schu...@missouri.edu>
Cc: Ivy Anderson <Ivy.An...@ucop.edu>; T Scott Plutchak <tsc...@uab.edu>; osi20...@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: Flipped model - hanging deck chairs on the Titanic?

I recently discussed one possible transition scenario in this blog-post:
http://svpow.com/2016/03/10/thought-experiment-1-what-will-happen-if-sci-hub-succeeds/

I quote from scenario #2 in that post:

---------------- begin quote ————————

From: Schultz, Jack C. [mailto:schu...@missouri.edu]
Sent: Friday, April 01, 2016 8:46 AM
To: Ivy Anderson; T Scott Plutchak
Cc: osi20...@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: Flipped model - hanging deck chairs on the Titanic?

Not if those same journals aren’t OA.

Jack C. Schultz, Director
Christopher S. Bond Life Science Center
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65202
http://bondlsc.missouri.edu/
@jackcschultz


From: <osi20...@googlegroups.com> on behalf of Ivy Anderson
<Ivy.An...@ucop.edu>
Date: Friday, April 1, 2016 at 10:29 AM
To: T Scott Plutchak <tsc...@uab.edu>
Cc: "osi20...@googlegroups.com" <osi20...@googlegroups.com>
Subject: Re: Flipped model - hanging deck chairs on the Titanic?

But if those funds were redirected toward *the same journals* that you cannot live without, wouldn't that be a better outcome?

Ivy

Sent from my mobile


On Apr 1, 2016, at 8:10 AM, T Scott Plutchak <tsc...@uab.edu> wrote:

I think Jack’s observations are correct for most libraries.  During my many years as director of UAB’s Lister Hill Library my constant struggle was to preserve as much access to critically needed subscription-based content as possible.  While philosophically predisposed to the notion that library funds should be used to support OA efforts, as a practical matter I never had sufficient budget flexibility to make that happen.

Scott


On Behalf Of Schultz, Jack C.
Sent: Friday, April 01, 2016 9:47 AM
To: Roxanne Missingham <Roxanne.M...@anu.edu.au>;
osi20...@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: Flipped model - hanging deck chairs on the Titanic?

I notice one thing in common in both MIT and Max Planck plans.  You can see it here:

Max Planck:  "Introduce OA funds (where not already established)”

MIT: "The MIT Libraries are relatively well-resourced, and are
privileged in having a bit of wiggle room to take this values-based approach”

These plans are for organizations with deep pockets. Few public institutions in the US are in a position to do this up front. Our library is asking us what to cut, and the institution’s budget situation is dire. There are no “OA funds” to introduce.  I suspect that the suggestion that libraries “redirect our collection expenditures … (i.e. turning existing subscription expenditures into OA expenditures in the current literature)” could only be accomplished by ending current subscriptions. That would create enormous panic and animosity among STEM researchers. I’m no expert on libraries or their finances, but I don’t see this working without an infusion of additional funds.  Like many, I couldn’t tolerate even a week without ‘free’ access to the journals on which I depend.

The Pollan/organic food analogy is apt:  there’s a (financial) reason why low-income folks eat at McDonalds. They need to eat now, it’s affordable, and the long-term costs are invisible or ignored.  As in many human endeavors, the long-term view loses out to short-term gains or sustainability.

Jack


I recognise that there are arguments that the big producers of researches must pay more, but in an environment where income to uneirvsity is not related to the quantity of publications is penalizes those universities for doing research.


So you might ask what should we do to actually reach the tipping point in open access?  I argue that we need to keep changing the whole system rather than tinkering with the method of payment – don’t seek to change the deck chairs on the titanic but fundamentally think through what is needed to achieve accessible knowledge transfer and access to research.

There are developments that should be supported in terms of new and different models:

· Open Library of Humanities' Library Partnership Subsidy system is a great initiative -


· Knowledge unlatched as very innovative and takes new “buying club” approach to open access that has delivered two round of great content

· Smaller flexible open access publishing (see https://caullibrarypublishing.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/university-presses-decline-to-decline-new-models-down-under/for information about activities down under).


I suggest that we need to think about the interests of all stakeholders and potential real effects and perverse economic incentives for publishing and scholarly communication.

It is useful also to bear in mind Marcus Munafo, University of Bristol presentation at RLUK this year which is helpfully on Youtube and his finding that the highest correlation is between journal impact factors and retraction rates.

Alison Mudditt

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Apr 1, 2016, 4:34:58 PM4/1/16
to Potter, Peter, osi20...@googlegroups.com
Peter,

Thanks for raising this important issue (again!). So much of the discussion in this group has been about (a) journals and (b) STM that's it's easy to forget the arts, humanities and social sciences, to say nothing of the humble monograph. Having been intimately involved with these issues both through the launch of our own Luminos program and more recently through involvement with the AAU/ARL Task Force you mention, I can say that there are important similarities and differences for monographs. The differences are around the challenges of finding sustainable business models, given that accepted gold and hybrid models don't readily translate to fields without research funds to cover the costs of publication. The similarities are in the issues of culture, prestige and the prominent role that place of publication plays in faculty evaluation and advancement. Although one might think that the challenges of getting a monograph accepted for publication and its limited distribution via the closed model would make faculty far more receptive to more open, digital models that doesn't seem to be the case.

And I do think that there's an important difference between monographs and society journals. The vast majority of monograph published by university presses don't make any money and most don't even cover the costs of publication, so they are very much the non-profit, mission part of our publishing. But whether we think they should or not, most society journals do make money - money that is used to fund the non-profit mission of the society.

Alison


Alison Mudditt    |    Director   |    University of California Press   |    510-883-8240    |   www.ucpress.edu





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Bryan Alexander

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Apr 1, 2016, 4:40:29 PM4/1/16
to Mike Taylor, Collins, Nina K, Schultz, Jack C., Ivy Anderson, T Scott Plutchak, osi20...@googlegroups.com
Would other, non-scientific scholarly societies be similarly impacted?
i.e., groups from the humanities, the arts, and non-quantitatively-intensive social sciences.


For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.



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http://bryanalexander.org/
Future Trends in Technology and Education, http://ftte.us/ 

Mike Taylor

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Apr 1, 2016, 4:46:56 PM4/1/16
to Bryan Alexander, Collins, Nina K, Schultz, Jack C., Ivy Anderson, T Scott Plutchak, osi20...@googlegroups.com
Sorry; like a lot of scientists I have the very bad habit of writing
"scientific" when I mean "scholarly". Let's all just pretend that I
was using the word "science" in the archaic sense meaning all
knowledge. And I will redouble my attempts to avoid being so
science-centic.

-- Mike.

Bryan Alexander

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Apr 1, 2016, 4:48:23 PM4/1/16
to Mike Taylor, Collins, Nina K, Schultz, Jack C., Ivy Anderson, T Scott Plutchak, osi20...@googlegroups.com
No problem.  I'll read it as Wissenschaft .

My people, the humanists, are at least as guilty of such centrism.

Alison Mudditt

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Apr 1, 2016, 5:02:29 PM4/1/16
to Bryan Alexander, Mike Taylor, Collins, Nina K, Schultz, Jack C., Ivy Anderson, T Scott Plutchak, osi20...@googlegroups.com
At the risk of speaking for another OSI attendee, it's interesting to note the work that Kathleen Fitzpatrick has spearheaded at MLA to extend the work and mission of the organization to facilitate open scholarship across and beyond members.

Sent from my iPhone

T Scott Plutchak

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Apr 1, 2016, 5:10:59 PM4/1/16
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Like Jack, I have trouble seeing how  we could get there, but I wonder if the SCOAP3 experiment doesn’t have some features that show promise.  Someone who is more familiar with it can correct my misapprehensions, but as I understand it, institutional funds go into a central pool, out of which publishers get paid according to the number of articles they publish.  Individual authors don’t pay APCs, so you avoid the problem of inequities according to ability to pay.  Publishers continue to get reimbursed according to the amount that they publish, and the cost to individual institutions doesn’t shift dramatically.

 

Since I haven’t followed it closely I don’t know how much effort has been required to get it to its current point, whether or not it has fulfilled any of the hopes of the people who’ve been involved with it, or if what’s been learned has any broader applicability.

 

Scott

 

 

T Scott Plutchak | Director of Digital Data Curation Strategies

UAB | The University of Alabama at Birmingham

AB 420M

O: 205-996-4716 | M: 205-283-5538

http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4712-5233

 

uab.edu

Knowledge that will change your world

Kathleen Fitzpatrick

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Apr 1, 2016, 5:14:58 PM4/1/16
to Alison Mudditt, Bryan Alexander, Collins, Nina K, Mike Taylor, Ivy Anderson, Schultz, Jack C., osi20...@googlegroups.com, T Scott Plutchak
Speak away, Alison! I’d be happy to blather on about what we’ve done in the OA universe, but the main thing I’ll point to right now, apropos of the scholarly/scientific question, is this article from the Chronicle on the financial futures of scholarly societies: http://chronicle.com/article/Scholarly-Groups-Choices/131396

The primary finding of the article is that those societies that count online scholarly databases or bibliographies among their main products face easier futures than those that do not. Which is to say that a revenue model that is less dependent upon the journal is likely to be more resilient in the coming years.

Our philosophy has largely been that the core function of the society is to facilitate communication amongst its members, and thus we envision a model in which the primary member benefit is participation in the field’s primary discussions. This doesn’t play well with an APC model, and wouldn’t even if there were sufficient funding in the humanities to support such author-side charges.

Best,
Kathleen

Kathleen Fitzpatrick
Associate Executive Director and Director of Scholarly Communication
Modern Language Association // mla.org // @kfitz

Ivy Anderson

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Apr 2, 2016, 5:25:09 AM4/2/16
to T Scott Plutchak, Schultz, Jack C., osi20...@googlegroups.com

As the person whose original posting to another list started this thread, I’m gratified by all of the responses and engagement.  I’d like to provide my own perspective on some of the points that have been raised – apologies for doing it all in one posting.  It’s hard to keep pace with an active discussion when you’re balancing insatiable work demands and live in California!

 

T. Scott, RE: SCOAP3 – I’m involved in the governance of SCOAP3 (as are a bunch of other ois2016 attendees) and I’m sure any of us would be happy to talk about it.  SCOAP3 pools funds redirected from library subscriptions on a global basis, supplemented (in some countries) by contributions from research funding bodies, and uses those funds to pay per-article charges, without any burden on individual authors.  It was not easy to get there;  but through its RFP process and SLA-oriented contracts with publishers, SCOAP3 has been able to significantly control costs as well as ensure virtually 100% compliance (something that has been problematic in other initiatives).  SCOAP3 benefits from having in CERN a strong intergovernmental agency able and willing to play a coordinating role, and from having a clearly-defined scope – attributes that may or may not be easily extensible to other projects.  But SCOAP3 has indeed shown that flipping can be accomplished without resorting to individual APCs and still drive down costs, and it has inspired similar consortial initiatives in other domains.  

 

Rick and others, RE: Access tolls and scholarly societies – I don’t think toll access is morally wrong – I don’t think morals enter into it at all (although some OA advocates may frame the debate in those terms).  I do think that access to and fully effective use of the scholarly literature is impeded by toll access – not just in the developing world (publishers will tell us HINARI and the like exist to solve that problem), and not just for tax-paying citizens, but in the barriers to text and data-mining, the lack of access by startups, emerging industries, legislators and policy makers, the inability of academics to freely use and re-use and share their own and their colleagues’ work, the battles (and wasted resources) over the boundaries of fair use, etc.  From that public good perspective, I think it’s clearly desirable for all journals, including society journals, to be as open as possible, because the availability of knowledge is increased, and productive research can advance more readily.  Also, the experience of Sci-hub tells us that when business models predicated on restricting access come into conflict with the affordances of a frictionless network, the network wins in the end.

 

Rick, you also wrote:  “Questions about whether it’s okay to realize a 35% profit margin are important to ask, but they have a bearing on only a tiny minority of the publishers in the scholcomm marketplace.”

I think your comment is meant to imply that high profit margins are a characteristic of only the large commercial publishers but not of societies.  Are you aware of any literature documenting the typical profit margins of society journals?  In our Pay It Forward research, we looked at a lot of 990 forms from non-profit publishers and found that their profit margins were also quite high in many cases.  A 2011 article in JMLA also found that the top non-profit (primarily society) medical journals had an average profit margin of 38.7%.  One can argue, of course, that high margins are justifiable in the case of societies because the revenues are plowed back into a societal good, but I think we should be careful in assuming that high profit margins are only a characteristic of a handful of commercial publishers.  That said, I agree with Mike Taylor in this blog post that the issue is not profit margins, but prices.  Hindawi’s profit margins are much higher than Elsevier’s for example, but their APCs are very low. 

 

I don’t know what model can work for smaller, non-STM scholarly societies, and I expect they’re not all uniform. Possibly a subscription model with short embargoes for low-cost non-STM journals could be a reasonable compromise;  but from reading the article that Kathleen pointed to, many of them aren’t doing very well under the subscription model in the first place, so it’s hard to see this as a saving strategy.  (Side note:  I wanted to read the article Kathleen cited, but couldn’t because it was behind a paywall.  Of course my institution licenses the Chronicle, but for some reason my VPN access wasn’t working at home.  So I did the unthinkable and tried Sci-hub (for the first time), but I couldn’t find it.  So then I did a plain Google search and pulled up the article from some other posting. The network wins.)  In any event, I think a study of the impact of gold APC models for non-STM societies would be valuable.  I’d be interested to know if someone has done this.

 

RE:  the Global South and inequities of access – The comments on this assume that a flip would be unaffordable for developing countries, and seem to imply that these economies are not similarly disadvantaged now.  Initiatives like HINARI and ResearchForLife already constitute ‘charity,’ if one wants to look at it that way.  As Kathleen Shearer I think has already pointed out, some of these countries already publish their own literature online in a different and open way.  To the extent that discovery of that literature is a problem in the more developed parts of the world, that’s a different problem to be solved I think (might SHARE address this?).  Here again, I do think it would be very useful to do some real, fact-based economic analysis of the implications of a shift to gold OA for these economies - not for any of their own literatures that may already be differently subsidized, but for the publishing they do in other subscription journals - rather than just assuming that they couldn’t afford it (see my next comment).  Anyone on this list in a position to do that?

 

RE: Affordability for under-resourced institutions – our Pay It Forward research suggests that these are exactly the institutions that would benefit in a flipped model;  their subscription costs tend to be far higher than their authorship fees would be.  We’ll be publishing our findings later this summer, but I’m happy to talk with folks about them more informally at the upcoming meeting.   Of course more research on this is needed.  But in general, the financial challenges inherent in a flipped model flow to the large research institutions, not the other way around.

 

RE: flipped deals as just another big deal – I know that the countries and consortia working on these arrangements by no means view them as a new status quo, but rather as a journey to a new place.  It’s early days for these initiatives and no one exactly knows what the world will look like at the other end of the wormhole, but the ultimate goal as I understand it from colleagues in those regions looks a lot like the end point of Mike Taylor’s scenario #2.

 

On the perils of a flipped model in general – I absolutely agree that this is a big idea with big stakes for many players.  What I’m dubious about is that we’re going to get to a largescale tipping point through an accretion of new, small-scale initiatives.  One can launch new journals, but the pre-existing journals rarely die (think Organic Letters and Tetrahedron Letters – is anyone no longer subscribing to that?).  As Roxanne pointed out, there is always going to be more literature that wants to be published.  Cultivating new publishing modalities with new and lower cost structures is absolutely something that we should do, to create competition, foster innovation, and avoid pouring new money in the same old directions.  But I think it’s equally incumbent upon us to explore models that can lead to desirable largescale change.   

 

Ivy

 

Ivy Anderson

Interim Executive Director

& Director of Collections

California Digital Library

University of California, Office of the President

Office: (510) 987-0425  |  Cell: (510) 239-9502

http://cdlib.org  |  ivy.an...@ucop.edu

 

Mike Taylor

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Apr 2, 2016, 5:42:00 AM4/2/16
to Ivy Anderson, T Scott Plutchak, Schultz, Jack C., osi20...@googlegroups.com
Thanks, Ivy. Lots of food for thought there, and lots to agree with. I
just want to pick up on two things -- one to extend your argument, and
one to question.

First, on "the Global South and inequities of access". You are quite
right that scholars in the developing world are already dependent on
charity (HINARI et al.), and also that in most cases these
institutions are less research-intensive and so will likely make up a
smaller proportion of global APC expenditure than they do of global
subscription expenditure.

But there is also another important reason why an APC-based system
would benefit the developing world more than the present
subscription-bases system. That is the freedom to go to other
publishers. At present, someone in a poorly resourced university who
wants to read Cretaceous Research simply has no other source to get it
from that Elsevier. Each publisher has a monopoly on the content that
it provides -- you can't get Cretaceous Research at a lower price from
Springer. That's why there is no market in subscriptions, which in
turn is why there is no downward pressure on prices. By contrast, a
poorly resourced researcher who wants to publish in Cretaceous
Research after a gold-OA flip may find himself unable to pay the $3000
APC, but she has the option of instead publishing in a different
journal -- one with a lower APC, or none at all. (In my own field of
vertebrate palaeontology, there are several well-regarded zero-APC
open-access journals. I realise this is not necessarily the same in
other fields, but there are always the OA megajournals.)

So for this reason -- that subscriptions are monopolies but APCs
happen in a market -- I am pretty confident that an APC-based system
will suit poorly resourced institutions better than the present
subscription-based system.

That was the main thing I wanted to say in response to your post. The
second thing was just to pick up on this: "I don’t think toll access
is morally wrong – I don’t think morals enter into it at all". Really?
Is there _any_ area of our lives that morals don't enter into? Are
there aspects of what we do where we can ignore moral insights? I
don't think so.

As it happens, I will be on the Moral Dimensions group at OSI2016 (so
I hope that you're wrong and morals DO enter into it, or we won't have
much to discuss!) Hoping to kick off some pre-discussion in that
group, I wrote this post, "Moral dimensions of Open, part 0: why this
matters": http://svpow.com/2016/03/31/moral-dimensions-of-open-part-0-why-this-matters/
I hope it is of interest to some in this broader group, too.

-- Mike.
> https://groups.google.com/d/msgid/osi2016-25/BL2PR06MB222516508D086DD663A185BAEF9B0%40BL2PR06MB2225.namprd06.prod.outlook.com.

Rick Anderson

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Apr 2, 2016, 8:29:22 AM4/2/16
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Rick, you also wrote:  “Questions about whether it’s okay to realize a 35% profit margin are important to ask, but they have a bearing on only a tiny minority of the publishers in the scholcomm marketplace.”

I think your comment is meant to imply that high profit margins are a characteristic of only the large commercial publishers but not of societies. 


Well, it was meant at least to imply that _35%_ profit margins are a characteristic of only the large commercial publishers. But as you point out (with reference to that JMLA study) that’s not necessarily true. I shouldn’t have used such categorical language.

Are you aware of any literature documenting the typical profit margins of society journals?


I’m not, and I guess it’s possible that profit margins in the neighborhood of 35% are much more prevalent among nonprofit society publishers than I think. My strong impression is that such is not the case, but you’re right that my impression is based mostly on inference and anecdote and not on hard data. 

For what it’s worth, I’m not surprised to hear that some of the “nonprofit” medical society publishers are realizing prof. . . er, “surpluses” in the range of 35% — I suspect that the American Chemical Society is somewhere in that neighborhood as well. But I think if we were to put all of the nonprofit society publishers across all disciplines into a single list and look at their surpluses, we’d see an overwhelming prevalence of much, much lower numbers (including quite a few negatives). Again, though, I can’t back up that impression with any real data — if anyone on the list is aware of a study that either supports or refutes my belief, I think we’d all love to see it.

---
Rick Anderson
Assoc. Dean for Collections & Scholarly Communication
Marriott Library, University of Utah

John G. Dove

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Apr 2, 2016, 9:24:56 AM4/2/16
to Rick Anderson, Ivy Anderson, T Scott Plutchak, Schultz, Jack C., osi20...@googlegroups.com
Excellent conversation.  I really look forward to discussing these issues face-to-face.

To my way of thinking the focus on profit or surplus margins is completely wrong. The real question is business models that charge for full access to the scholarly content.  

Much of the the scholarly publishing industry is a perfect example of what some economists [Anne Krueger] call "rent-seeking", where businesses use every means at their disposal to increase their share of the wealth without adding equivalent value thereby distorting the fair allocation of resources which in turn creates a poor societal allocation of resources.

  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rent-seeking

Here's an apt description from that article: 

Rent-seeking is an attempt to obtain economic rent (i.e., the portion of income paid to a factor of production in excess of what is needed to keep it employed in its current use) by manipulating the social or political environment in which economic activities occur, rather than by creating new wealth. Rent-seeking implies extraction of uncompensated value from others without making any contribution to productivity. The classic example of rent-seeking, according to Robert Shiller, is that of a feudal lord who installs a chain across a river that flows through his land and then hires a collector to charge passing boats a fee (or rent of the section of the river for a few minutes) to lower the chain. There is nothing productive about the chain or the collector. The lord has made no improvements to the river and is helping nobody in any way, directly or indirectly, except himself. All he is doing is finding a way to make money from something that used to be free.

To be fair replace "used to be free" with "ought to be free" and this is motivated by the fact that the cost distribution of scholarly content today compared with 50 years ago is hundreds if not thousands of times lower cost.

Scholarly publishers, big and small, do a combination of things.  Some of it is directed to improving the work of scholars. Supporting authoring, networking, elaborate search mechanisms, helping them decide where to spend their scarce time surveying the literature.  And I think we'll benefit by having publishers and other 'vendors' be able to innovate on all of these things without regard to what their profit margins are like.  Companies whose revenue and, more importantly expected future revenue, is focused on adding value to customers' lives almost always find ways to plow profits (surpluses) back into their innovation activities.   Only those who are holding onto rent-seeking advantages of their monopoly position are spending most of their time defending their rents.

So I encourage you all not to focus on profit margins.  Focus on obtaining zero pricing for access to the literature.  And publishers:  I encourage you to focus the value-add that you bring to the world on improving the lives of researchers, scholars, and those who employ them.

One data point I have on the importance of this is my son who has emigrated to Slovakia where he teaches American Studies and translation theory at the University of Banská Bystrica. Slovakia is not an underdeveloped country. But it doesn't have the resources of the UK or US. The budget for library resources in the humanities at his university is particularly stressed. It is not helped by the various programs that some of the biggest publishers offer under-developed countries.

Another data point is a major research library in the US.  I was told by the library director that the price they've paid for journals went form $8m to $14.4 million between 2004 and 2015.  I think that's three times the inflation rate.  Their price increase for 2015 was $800K, a year in which inflation was vanishingly small.  This is with no meaningful increase in number of journals. This reflects rent-seeking.

I believe major research universities will gladly pay money, maybe even increasing amounts of money, for advances and innovations in the support of research, but in this case they are paying more and more for nothing more.  So let's have publishers innovate so that the well-endowed institutions can pay more for more and the University of Banská Bystrica (along with the Global South) can have unfettered access to the scholarly record.

-john dove

_________________
John G. Dove, personal e-mail

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Ivy Anderson

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Apr 2, 2016, 2:39:51 PM4/2/16
to Mike Taylor, T Scott Plutchak, Schultz, Jack C., osi20...@googlegroups.com
Mike,

I very much agree with your first point - you've expounded much more clearly on something I was trying to suggest in my original post:

that if we were to redirect our collection expenditures in this way
(i.e. turning existing subscription expenditures into OA expenditures in the
existing literature), we would not be funding publishers, but rather the
publication choices of our authors.  This, I would argue, is a profound
difference:  as the publishing choices of our authors shift, our collection
expenditures would shift with them;  they would truly be ‘scholar-led.’

As to moral dimensions, I was overcompensating a bit  perhaps - what I was trying to say in responding to Rick's challenge as to whether all toll-access was immoral (i.e. Isn't it OK to let societies sell low-cost subscriptions with a modest surplus) was that he was setting up a straw man - I don't see the subscription-based system or even high profits as necessarily and intrinsically immoral, and I'm not disposed to use that as a basis for arguing about the merits of OA - but that the public good argument is very strong and fundamentally compelling. I'll read your blog post now. 

Ivy
Sent from my mobile

Rick Anderson

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Apr 2, 2016, 3:19:38 PM4/2/16
to Ivy Anderson, Mike Taylor, T Scott Plutchak, Schultz, Jack C., osi20...@googlegroups.com
I should never have introduced the concept of “morality” into this discussion — that was a careless word choice on my part, and I apologize. In light of Ivy’s and Mike’s very good comments, would it be opkay if I pose my question again, this time framing it in terms of the public good?

Does anyone among us believe that access tolls can ever provide a net benefit to the public? (By, perhaps, making it possible for a scholarly society to do publicly beneficial work that it couldn’t do without that revenue?) Or do we believe that charging for access to scholarship will inevitably result in a net detriment to the public good, and is therefore unacceptable in  principle?

---
Rick Anderson
Assoc. Dean for Collections & Scholarly Communication
Marriott Library, University of Utah

Glenn Hampson

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Apr 2, 2016, 3:57:56 PM4/2/16
to osi20...@googlegroups.com

Isn’t society filled with access tolls (also defined as user fees) for both public and private goods that provide a net benefit to the public? On the public side we have access tolls to public parks that protect and educate, access tolls to roads that facilitate commerce, pollution tolls (fees) that help reduce and distribute environmental impacts and so on. And on the private side we have fees for services like insurance that help protect public health. It certainly seems (and I’m sure economists have actual names and numbers for these sorts of things) that the cost of these efforts is far less than the net benefit to society.

 

So if we’re defining knowledge as a public good, we should be able to rationalize creating access tolls to make sure that supporting and distributing knowledge is a sustainable enterprise.

 

Or should we? Is “taxing” knowledge more akin to a value-added-tax---taxing a component of a product instead of the product itself? So in other words, while it’s fine to inflict a toll on drivers who use the HOV lane because these fees are paying for the road and improving traffic in general (which improves the overall regional economy), taxing education restricts access to a component that can help improve the economy, and also increases the price of the final outcome of this improved education (better jobs, higher productivity, etc.). The net benefit to society is therefore impaired in this case instead of increased.

 

Can you help me out Deborah (Stine)? I’ve stumbled my way into a policy corner and don’t know enough to get out. There are actual concepts at work here that might help inform this discussion.

 

Is this where you’re going Rick or am I misunderstanding?

 

Best,

 

Glenn

 

Glenn Hampson

Executive Director

National Science Communication Institute (nSCI)

Program Director
Open Scholarship Initiative (OSI)

 

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2320 N 137th Street | Seattle, WA 98133

(206) 417-3607 | gham...@nationalscience.org | nationalscience.org

 

 

 

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Mike Taylor

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Apr 2, 2016, 4:07:25 PM4/2/16
to Glenn Hampson, osi20...@googlegroups.com
On 2 April 2016 at 20:57, Glenn Hampson <gham...@nationalscience.org> wrote:

Isn’t society filled with access tolls (also defined as user fees) for both public and private goods that provide a net benefit to the public? On the public side we have access tolls to public parks that protect and educate, access tolls to roads that facilitate commerce, pollution tolls (fees) that help reduce and distribute environmental impacts and so on. And on the private side we have fees for services like insurance that help protect public health. It certainly seems (and I’m sure economists have actual names and numbers for these sorts of things) that the cost of these efforts is far less than the net benefit to society.


There is a very fundamental difference in the case of access to knowledge, which is that each access is intrinsically zero-cost. I can give away a thousand copies of my PDFs without being any the poorer for it, whereas when a thousand people visit a park they exert a maintenance cost. The more people visit the park and use its facilities, the more maintenance is required. But the more people download a copy of my papers -- it makes no difference to me. It is pure value creation.

-- Mike.

John G. Dove

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Apr 2, 2016, 4:26:46 PM4/2/16
to Mike Taylor, Glenn Hampson, osi20...@googlegroups.com
Mike is right.  That's why I brought in the concept of "rent seeking" and distinguish between that part and the other things publishers do.  Publishers and vendors do lots of other stuff that truly adds value. But using monopoly control to charge for access to the content is not value added.  It's been clearly demonstrated that a variety of other models can be successful economically without charging for the access post publication. All the major publishers now have OA journals and it's not bringing them down.  What they haven't done is to let go of the "rent seeking".  
     PLOS and other purely OA publishers have shown that a whole publishing enterprise can be built that doesn't depend on toll charging for the content.  This doesn't mean that they've got it exactly right, either; and APCs may not be the best way forward. But I think it's hard for anyone to claim today that "Open" has to mean "unsustainable". 

-john

 

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Kathleen Fitzpatrick

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Apr 2, 2016, 4:26:50 PM4/2/16
to Mike Taylor, Glenn Hampson, osi20...@googlegroups.com
Yes and no. The incremental cost may be near-zero, but you’ve still got to have hardware, software, hosting, support, and the knowledge to use it all. And even if those costs to you individually are very low, once you start aggregating communities and cultivating attention, you’re dealing with real network costs, not to mention labor (even if unpaid) in doing the aggregation and cultivation. Some of the community benefits provided by those services may be worth paying for. —K.

Kathleen Fitzpatrick
Associate Executive Director and Director of Scholarly Communication
Modern Language Association // mla.org // @kfitz


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Glenn Hampson

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Apr 2, 2016, 4:36:54 PM4/2/16
to Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Mike Taylor, osi20...@googlegroups.com

In addition to your point Kathleen, if the argument is sustainability, isn’t there also a production cost to recoup as well Mike---the cost of the research and writing (and whatever else) that went into your report? Toll lane fees helps recover the cost of building that lane in the first place. I’m sorry for the tangent---I realize this isn’t exactly on topic but I’m just trying to wrap my brain around the philosophical distinctions here between knowledge and the rest of the economy (a distinction that someone more knowledgeable than me has doubtless already drawn).

 

 

Glenn Hampson

Executive Director

National Science Communication Institute (nSCI)

Program Director
Open Scholarship Initiative (OSI)

 

word-image3.jpg

 

2320 N 137th Street | Seattle, WA 98133

(206) 417-3607 | gham...@nationalscience.org | nationalscience.org

 

 

 

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From: Kathleen Fitzpatrick [mailto:kfitzp...@mla.org]
Sent: Saturday, April 02, 2016 1:27 PM
To: Mike Taylor; Glenn Hampson
Cc: osi20...@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: Flipped model - hanging deck chairs on the Titanic?

 

Yes and no. The incremental cost may be near-zero, but you’ve still got to have hardware, software, hosting, support, and the knowledge to use it all. And even if those costs to you individually are very low, once you start aggregating communities and cultivating attention, you’re dealing with real network costs, not to mention labor (even if unpaid) in doing the aggregation and cultivation. Some of the community benefits provided by those services may be worth paying for. —K.

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Mike Taylor

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Apr 2, 2016, 4:52:21 PM4/2/16
to Glenn Hampson, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, osi20...@googlegroups.com
On 2 April 2016 at 21:36, Glenn Hampson <gham...@nationalscience.org> wrote:

In addition to your point Kathleen, if the argument is sustainability, isn’t there also a production cost to recoup as well Mike---the cost of the research and writing (and whatever else) that went into your report?


Sure. So charge for production. (Oh look -- we just invented Gold open access!)

Toll lane fees helps recover the cost of building that lane in the first place. I’m sorry for the tangent---I realize this isn’t exactly on topic but I’m just trying to wrap my brain around the philosophical distinctions here between knowledge and the rest of the economy (a distinction that someone more knowledgeable than me has doubtless already drawn).


Well, the key distinction here is between cost of production (a cost that must be met once in order for the first copy of the PDF to be created) and the marginal cost (that, is the additional cost of each further copy).

If you're a chair manufacturer, the former is large -- you need to acquire a workshop -- but the latter is also significant. Each new chair requires wood, glue, screws, and time to create.

But if you're a publisher, while the former is still potentially significant, the latter is literally zero.

It's a game-changer. Old economic models simply don't work. You get divide-by-zero errors. That is why all analogies between electronic goods and physical goods are fundamentally flawed. Such analogies can only mislead.

-- Mike.

Ivy Anderson

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Apr 2, 2016, 5:08:00 PM4/2/16
to Glenn Hampson, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Mike Taylor, osi20...@googlegroups.com
There is a cost to information production, but the marginal costs for distribution are much lower. In an OA model, they're paid for by moving the economy to the production side (regardless of whether APC-based or not). It does entail a different distribution of costs and benefits. 

The world is rarely black and white;  there are always compromises and trade offs. I can see low-cost subscriptions with short embargoes supplemented by article-sharing as a valid path for many societies (less so for STM where early access to research results can have real value).  But many H/SS societies claim that they need long embargoes, and as the Chronicle article that Kathleen cited suggests, many of those societies aren't faring very well under this model now (it's the non-journal content that makes money). (As a total aside, where was our moral outrage when indexing and abstracting services went from print to CD-ROM to online at exponential price increases?  This is one of the untold stories in the library serials budget crisis.)

One useful outcome of the osi2016 discussions would be an economic modeling project focused on society publishers.

Ivy
Sent from my mobile

On Apr 2, 2016, at 1:36 PM, Glenn Hampson <gham...@nationalscience.org> wrote:

In addition to your point Kathleen, if the argument is sustainability, isn’t there also a production cost to recoup as well Mike---the cost of the research and writing (and whatever else) that went into your report? Toll lane fees helps recover the cost of building that lane in the first place. I’m sorry for the tangent---I realize this isn’t exactly on topic but I’m just trying to wrap my brain around the philosophical distinctions here between knowledge and the rest of the economy (a distinction that someone more knowledgeable than me has doubtless already drawn).

 

 

Glenn Hampson

Executive Director

National Science Communication Institute (nSCI)

Program Director
Open Scholarship Initiative (OSI)

 

<image001.jpg>

Schultz, Jack C.

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Apr 2, 2016, 5:11:40 PM4/2/16
to Glenn Hampson, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Mike Taylor, osi20...@googlegroups.com
The cost of disseminating one’s research results is essentially free or very low.  This situation is very similar to the music industry, where you can write your own music, record it yourself, and promote and distribute it yourself online. There is less and less reason to pay for recording studio time, and the medium is all electronic – no more records/CDs to manufacture and sell. As a result the industry is “in trouble” because they’ve lost their business model to technology. Music is essentially open access. 

Science publishers have been paid to do several things: organize peer review, edit, and print the papers. They no longer (have to) print, and IMHO they often aren’t editing. Production costs?  I can format like PNAS and create a PDF instantly, at no cost. 

There is only one factor in (science) publishing that could require a fee, and that is peer review.  As long as peer review is the gold standard for veracity, somebody will have to organize it and get it done.  Right now publishers get paid to do that. While some researchers are attempting to get around this “toll”, I think it is unlikely that the research community will a) change their minds about the importance of peer review or b) organize it themselves. The need to get peer review done will likely continue, and that’s a paying job. 

So in my mind the question is “how much is organized peer review worth”? Since most of us no longer care whether our work is printed on paper, and I guess publishers’  charges haven’t declined, there is widespread suspicion that whatever is being charged is much more than the costs of organizing peer review. I really don’t know. What is the cost of finding reviewers, sending them a PDF, retrieving their reviews and writing to the authors?

The problem I have with the system is that I think the quality of peer review is poor and its significance a sham. Plus, reviewers are too busy to edit, and publishers aren’t getting that done, either.  So one wonders what we’re paying for. It’s not all publishers’ fault, I hasten to add. Much of the junk – and even dishonest – stuff that gets through should have been caught by peer reviewers. In an ideal world the publishers should be able to trust reviewers and pay attention to editing. Some part of that process, particularly the gatekeeping, failed. 

Paying the toll is no guarantee that the road will be passable. 

Jack


Jack C. Schultz, Director
Christopher S. Bond Life Science Center
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65202
@jackcschultz

From: <osi20...@googlegroups.com> on behalf of Glenn Hampson <gham...@nationalscience.org>
Organization: National Science Communication Institute
Date: Saturday, April 2, 2016 at 3:36 PM
To: 'Kathleen Fitzpatrick' <kfitzp...@mla.org>, 'Mike Taylor' <mi...@indexdata.com>
Cc: "osi20...@googlegroups.com" <osi20...@googlegroups.com>
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Schultz, Jack C.

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Apr 2, 2016, 5:16:56 PM4/2/16
to Ivy Anderson, Glenn Hampson, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Mike Taylor, osi20...@googlegroups.com
The cost of information/knowledge production is borne by the agencies supporting the research (at last in STEM). That’s what grants are for. 

The recognition that distribution is low-cost or free seems to be emerging in this conversation. Nonetheless, the typical federal grant includes  a line item for “publication costs”. 

Jack C. Schultz, Director
Christopher S. Bond Life Science Center
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65202
@jackcschultz

From: <osi20...@googlegroups.com> on behalf of Ivy Anderson <Ivy.An...@ucop.edu>

Kathleen Fitzpatrick

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Apr 2, 2016, 5:26:53 PM4/2/16
to ivy anderson, schultz, jack c., glenn hampson, mike taylor, osi20...@googlegroups.com
This is true in STEM, where it's also true that it's not possible to do research without funding. The vast majority of research in the humanities is self-funded, and what grant support there is only very rarely permist inclusion of publication costs. So there is a significant percentage of the academy for which a flipped model will create greater, not lesser, disparities. 

And I remain unconvinced that distribution is entirely free, even if reproduction is. arXiv has required a huge fundraising effort to remain sustainable. Support for infrastructure has got to come from somewhere. I'm not at all trying to argue for the imposition of tolls here, just a recognition that not all the problems have been solved. 

Kathleen Fitzpatrick
Associate Executive Director and Director of Scholarly Communication
Modern Language Association // mla.org // @kfitz

Mike Taylor

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Apr 2, 2016, 5:30:01 PM4/2/16
to Schultz, Jack C., Glenn Hampson, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, osi20...@googlegroups.com
On 2 April 2016 at 22:11, Schultz, Jack C. <schu...@missouri.edu> wrote:
There is only one factor in (science) publishing that could require a fee, and that is peer review.  As long as peer review is the gold standard for veracity, somebody will have to organize it and get it done.

Right now publishers get paid to do that. While some researchers are attempting to get around this “toll”, I think it is unlikely that the research community will a) change their minds about the importance of peer review or b) organize it themselves.

That is true; but there are alternatives that may take off. Several of the more innovative publishers -- F1000 Research, Science Open, the Winnower, no doubt many others that I've overlooked -- instead use a model where a submitted article is published more or less immediately (after only cursory checks), and peer-review is invited subsequently. In some of these venues (e.g. F1000 Research) part of the purpose of the post-publication peer-reviews is to reach a moment of acceptance, after which the article is stamped as "peer-reviewed". In some other venues, there is no analogous magic moment. (My own take is that the latter is a more realistic representation of reality, but the former is probably a more acceptable transition for most scholars to make.)

(One of the big mysteries in this game is why publication in F1000 Research costs so much. They have come up with what I think is a very good system that removes many of the traditional costs of peer-review, yet their APC is still £1000. That doesn't look too good when other new publishers like PeerJ and Ubiquity are doing the more expensive traditional pre-publication peer-review, but charging and APC less than half of F1000's. I do hope they can fix that soon, so I can start unreservedly recommending them.)

What I find interesting is that the F1000-style approach to publication, which sounds rather radical, is the kind of thing we might expect to appeal to Bright Young Things, but to be rejected out of hand by Wise Old Birds who grew up on the old system. Yet when the Royal Society last year hosted its Future of Scholarly Scientific Communication meetings, systems of this kind were proposed over and over again by very, very senior people who evidently saw their benefits.

(For anyone who wants a bit more detail on this, I wrote a bit about it in "Green and Gold: the possible futures of Open Access" at http://svpow.com/2015/05/26/green-and-gold-the-possible-futures-of-open-access/ )

Paying the toll is no guarantee that the road will be passable.

How very true, and how well put!

-- Mike.
 

Mike Taylor

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Apr 2, 2016, 5:34:23 PM4/2/16
to Kathleen Fitzpatrick, ivy anderson, schultz, jack c., glenn hampson, osi20...@googlegroups.com
Kathleen points out that "arXiv has required a huge fundraising effort
to remain sustainable." That is true; yet its cost per paper hosted is
about $7 -- and that is the cost to host the paper essentially
forever, serving up an unlimited number of copies.

The fact that this is THREE ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE less than society pays
for a typical subscription article should give us pause. If we all
switched away from conventional journals to arXiv, we could save 99.9%
of what we currently spend.

(For avoidance of doubt: I am not suggesting that arXiv alone is
sufficient, at least in its present form. It doesn't even support a
commenting facility, let alone anything like a formalised system of
peer-review. But it gets us, shall we say, 50% of what conventional
publications gets us; for 0.1% of the cost.)

-- Mike.

Kathleen Fitzpatrick

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Apr 2, 2016, 5:37:17 PM4/2/16